The young aspiring to go ahead, trying to climb the fallen ladder of life, need a sense of humour more than anything else for the purpose. John Dryden says, "It is a good thing to laugh, at any rate; and if a straw can tickle a man, it is an instrument of happiness."
Laughter, which bursts from a smile or a sense of humour, is related to personality. It is not only a healthful "exertion" but also a badge of a bright personality. A person with a "long face" becomes a sad spectacle of society.
This is not a mere assumption, nor an abstract philosophy. It is now an established scientific fact. Research has put valid foundation under the premise popularly known as "laugh and last". Laughter is a therapy better than any physician can prescribe.
According to a study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Centre, watching a funny movie has a healthy effect on blood vessels function while watching a mentally stressful one can cause the lining of the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow.
"Laughing is important to maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Michael Miller of the University.
Laughter offsets the impact of mental stress, which is harmful to the heart. Humour is an essential part of psychotherapy treatment given to heart patients. Five minutes of laughter is good enough to rejuvenate the body for twelve hours.
Humour therapy is used extensively in yoga and other alternative therapies. Joggers having a hearty laugh early morning in parks are a common sight. Contrarily, people with heart disease are less likely to recognize humour or use it to get out of uncomfortable situations. They generally laugh less, even in positive situations and display more anger and hostility.
When Norman Cousins, Literary Editor of New York Times, found out he had only a slim chance of recovering from a sudden mysterious disease, he had very little to laugh about! Within days his body had degenerated to the point that he had difficulty moving himself.
In his article in New England Journal of Medicine, Cousins tells of his recovery, inspired by the discovery that 10 minutes of genuine belly-laughter had a telling effect and would give him at least two hours of pain-free sleep.
His laughter therapy included screening motion pictures and sometimes the nurses would read to him out of humour books. Especially useful were Treasury of American Humour and The Enjoyment of Laughter.
His work in humour therapy, mind and body medicine, and the role of positive emotions won him name as it added to his life span. A research paper Effects of Laughter and Relaxation describes how laughter is a therapy.
Twenty male and 20 female subjects listened to, first, a 20 minute laughter cassette, second, a 20-minute relaxation cassette and third, a 20-minute dull, narrative cassette. After the laughter and relaxation cassette experiences, subjects felt reduced discomforts.
Forty female subjects went through a similar clinical text. Relief was evident. Relief is written on the physical act of laughing on physiological accompaniments. Relief brings in sympathy by ending anger. Relief gives and adds value to laughter.
The "happy convulsion", as Leigh Hunt called laughter, is a spillway for energy. The expenditure of energy by the convulsed body is visible in motion. Action is called for an action must occur if waste products are not to clog the body. So laughter rehearses the situations of calling on and calling off to give a physical exercise that use up the energy generated.
There is a similarity between laughter and crying. Crying, like laughing, is basically an act of respiratory muscles. It may be called "sorrowful tittering"; and laughter "glad sob".
Crying is sorrowful because it is vain and laughter is joyful as...